Challenging times

Life is full of challenges. It’s natural to want to stay within our comfort zone. However, in my opinion, challenges make our world more interesting and are an opportunity for growth.

Few things are more challenging than parenthood. Those of us who’ve seen our children overcome their upbringing to emerge as relatively unscathed adults might look back on the whole experience through rose-tinted glasses. But watching my own daughter become a mother reminds me of all the obstacles that need to be negotiated. The very act of leaving the house with a squalling infant is an achievement in itself. It’s a full-scale military operation. Unfortunately, the commander-in-chief has been subjected to sleep deprivation torture and is no longer capable of rationale thought or coherent speech. The temptation then is simply to stay within the safety of the familiar four walls. So, it is with no hint of irony that I cheer Darling Daughter on when she tells me she’s survived a pram-trip into town on the tram.

Little Angel also has to deal with more than her fair share of trials and tribulations. After all, a human body takes some getting used to. That head is so heavy it’s impossible for a baby to hold up all on her own. And the concept of rolling over seems totally impossible. Until one day, there she is, sitting up straight or performing acrobatics on her playmat. This ‘baby-mindset’ of never giving up is useful to adopt at all ages. For them, there’s none of ‘this transferring food from hand to mouth is far too complicated, I’ll just have a servant feed me for the rest of my life’, or ‘This walking malarkey is beyond me, I’ve decided to remain seated forever’. No, they get stuck in, smearing banana in their eyes and hair. They fall down and then get up again ad infinitum. All accompanied with equal amounts of tears and laughter.

Then suddenly, before you know it, they’ve reached anguished adolescence. This is the no-man’s land where the challenge is to escape the trench of childhood and scale the barbed wire into adulthood. There are so many decisions to be made and paths to choose. What subjects to study? Whose party to go to? Which PS4 game to play? Our own Grunting Teen is doing alright at the moment. He’s keeping up with his school work, has a part-time job and a social life. What a long way he’s travelled from the anxiety and isolation of lockdown life.

And yet the challenges keep coming, as the Nearly-Beloved has recently discovered. That lean, mean body machine of his youth is now in need of a full service. His rugby days have taken their toll on his knees, the Aikido did his back in and the tennis has finally reached his elbow. He could so easily call it a day, sit back on the couch and become a potato. Instead, he adapts to the situation. Competition is part of his nature, so if he can’t be king pin of the bowling alley, he’ll make sure he beats you at tiddly winks.

As for me, my current challenge is to run the Manchester marathon on April 3rd. The training has been long and arduous. The weather mainly inclement and unkind. The pain both physical and psychological. I’m still unsure if I’ll be able to reach the finishing line in one piece.  But I’m running to raise money for The Brain Tumour Charity. I’ve been inspired by a fellow runner who kept on racing until the end, and a friend who never gives up, despite the daily difficulties she faces. You see, everyone’s circumstances are different, as are everyone’s battles. The main thing is not to limit your challenges but challenge your limits .

You can support Judith in raising money for The Brain Tumour Charity at Judith Watkins is fundraising for The Brain Tumour Charity (

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